A Reliable UK Expat Postal Address
As soon as the initial euphoria and exhaustion of a move to another country has evaporated, many expats quickly discover that they also need to have an address in the UK. Even if, at first sight, with a new home and address in a newly adopted country it no longer seems necessary, most expats quickly find that a UK address is almost essential.
Many UK expats will, for instance, continue to quote their old UK home address to banks, credit card companies, driving licence authority etc., even though it is not strictly legal. In my experience, financial institutions in particular, often became rather nervous when told of my impending escape to a country in the sun; for example, would they mind sending on policy renewal forms and replacement bank cards to my home in the Canary Islands? Sometimes, the response to such a request met either with a curt reply that smacked ever so slightly of jealousy, or as if I had decided to move somewhere off the planet. “Oh no, Sir, we have no procedures for sending post overseas. We will have to close your account”, or “Please do not tell me that, it may cause problems with your licence, insurance policy...”, have both been responses that I have received to such a relatively simple request. After all, we are still talking about Europe and not a move off Planet Earth are we?
When it comes to ordering items from the Internet or mail order catalogues, you will be met with much the same response. Notable exceptions are Amazon - both UK and USA, who are terrific, as well as QVC who will take a ‘foreign address’ in their stride. Similarly, with Ebay orders; some traders will send overseas and others will not. I won a beautiful camera at a knock down price recently on an Ebay auction, only to be informed by the seller that he did not ship overseas. The Orkneys were somehow most acceptable, but not the Canary Islands. Had he heard of registered post overseas, I mused?
If you are fortunate to own or rent a home in the UK, maybe a relative or helpful neighbour would be willing send on your post from time to time? Expats that I know often quote their son’s or daughter’s address, or that of a close friend or neighbour, but, over time, this well-meaning arrangement often ceases to be efficient, and important post can be left unattended for many weeks. Teething babies, flu and appalling weather, making a trip to the Post Office impossible, are some of the more likely excuses, although I did hear of one case recently where a newly arrived puppy chewed up, and was sick on, three months' worth of bank and credit card statements for one unfortunate expat. Be warned, there are other ways!
Personally, I use a UK mailing service, UK Postbox, which I highly recommend. I have tried several such companies over the years, and most have been very good, but the one that I currently use is excellent. It gives me a UK street address, sends me an email or text message whenever a letter or parcel arrives at their office. I then log on to their very clever online system, and tell them if the item should be sent on to my home in the Canary Islands, stored, opened and scanned (which saves postage costs) or shredded. This company will send mail to anywhere in the world and makes ordering items online very simple. I can see a photo of the envelope online and can easily determine if it is yet another promotional leaflet to be shredded, or something important that I should ask to be forwarded. This service is not particularly cheap, but it is reliable and blisteringly efficient and gives me peace of mind. With this service under your belt, expats can focus on what they do best - relaxing, and enjoying the sun!
I also use a similar service in the USA that allows me to order electronic goods at particularly good prices, which can then to be forwarded to my home. Again, this is not a cheap service, but some goods can be purchased at particularly advantageous prices and sent on, whilst still making a substantial saving.
© Barrie Mahoney
I have used a number of post forwarding services in the UK and Ireland, and can recommend UK Postbox, which is based in Poole, Dorset. This is a private company and is not part of Royal Mail.
This is not just a basic mail forwarding service, because it offers a range of additional services too. You can ask the company to open and scan your mail, which you can then view online without postage forwarding costs being incurred. For more private correspondence, the outside of the envelope is scanned, which you can then view online and decide whether the letter should be forwarded to you or, in the case of junk mail, shredded to avoid postage costs.
In addition, you can view the contents of your mailbox by using an App on your iPhone or similar smart phone. Parcels and packages can be forwarded at additional cost plus postage, and you can also select which postal service should be used, request a signed for service or additional insurance.
The UK Postbox service offers a wide range of services for the expat who wishes to stay in touch.
For more information, go to: http://www.ukpostbox.com/
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Barrie’s websites: http://barriemahoney.com and http://thecanaryislander.com or read his latest book, ‘Footprints in the Sand’ (ISBN: 9780995602717). Available in paperback, as well as Kindle editions.
© Barrie Mahoney